Does anyone else feel like 2017 was jam-packed?! I know I did. Granted, it felt so much calmer than 2016, but it was still very full. This took a lot of planning and organization on my part, to make #allthethings happen without stressing everyone out (myself included). If you’re like me, though, you’re hoping to a) simplify your schedule for 2018, and b) really get a handle on that simplified schedule (that may still be very busy). Here are three quick tips for kicking off 2018 on the right foot with a schedule and plan that feel great to you.
- Take inventory of your commitments. Get a piece of poster board (not a paper, trust me—poster boards are awesome for seeing the BIG picture) and a pen. Begin writing all the commitments you have that show up as regular appointments on your calendar: school, church, volunteering, children’s extracurricular activities, work, work, work (you get the picture).
- Ruthlessly edit these. Decide what MUST stay. Highlight or underline those. Make decisions about what’s left. Do your children NEED to be involved in 3 extracurricular activities? Does your son even WANT to play four sports, or is there a favorite emerging? Is that volunteer commitment a “great thing for another season” and potentially a “not right now” for this season? Make yourself and your family a priority and say no where you can.
- Create margin. Don’t get uncomfortable with the empty planner pages or the afternoons with no “places to be.” You may be tempted to fill them. Don’t fall victim to this. Let it be and let the good stuff of life seep into those moments. Maybe you’ll be freed up to make dinner for your family now. Maybe you’ll have time to exercise now. Maybe you’ll simply have time to get the laundry folded and put away now. Margin = room to breathe.
Once you have your edited schedule in front of you, consider the way your appointments are grouped together. For instance, I work five short days a week while my kiddos are at school (I try not to work outside of their school hours since they’re home with me at that point). I started grouping all my weekly calls, meetings, etc. on Tuesdays and Thursdays only—leaving Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays open for my “creative time.” Uninterrupted time for me to design and write. These days are so valuable since they’re not being chopped up. I bet, if you look at your schedule, you can find ways to group things together so that you’re left with a better overall organization of it all. Maybe instead of a jam-packed Monday afternoon with three kids going three different directions, you could spread those out across Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday? One commitment each day and room to breathe around each.
I’ve shared a few times on our Facebook Lives about how I manage my own busy schedule as a working mom. My team is all remote, so we keep everything in iCal. I put all my appointments there as well. On Sundays, I sit down with my Simplified Planner and transfer my appointments into my daily edition. From that point, I’m working out of my Simplified Planner. I love that time on Sundays because it’s a focused time for me to go over what’s coming up, see if I need to do anything to prepare, and connect with my husband on his schedule also.
MY 10 FAVORITE IPHONE & SIMPLIFIED PLANNER HACKS:
- iPhone: Use the Notes app to keep track of lists and important information. Type three applicable emojis, then go down the next line, and type your list title. Then begin your list. Your notes app will be beautifully organized!
- iPhone: Use the Notes app to track packages you’re monitoring (especially great during the holidays). I know there are apps out there to track this, but they all feel a little less than simple to me. I just copy + paste my tracking URLs for important packages into a note for easy access.
- iPhone: Color code your apps (love this idea from The Home Edit) into individual folders. When I search for an app, I’m actually looking for its color, not its name or symbol, so this works great! I have 8 folders for my apps on my second page and keep only my most-used apps on my first page of my iPhone.
- iPhone: Use a really simple wallpaper so that your apps stand out and your iPhone screen is visually calming. Search google for “free gradient iPhone wallpapers” and you’ll find a ton!
- Simplified Planner: Use a paper clip to clip invitations or coupons to certain days.
- Simplified Planner: Write things (like grocery lists) that may need to be transferred from day to day on a Post-It and stick onto your planner page.
- Simplified Planner: On the “to-do” section of your Daily Simplified Planner, write personal tasks from the top down and then write work tasks from the bottom up so that you have a visual delineation between the two lists.
- Simplified Planner: Color code your planner using Pilot pens! We LOVE the Pilot V5 pens and all the fun color options they have! You could color code for each person in your family or color code work/personal as well.
- Simplified Planner: Store stamped stationery in the front pocket of your planner so its easily accessible for thank you notes.
- Simplified Planner: Keep a monthly bucket list on the notes column of your monthly spread. Keep 3-5 things you’d like to get done (or experience!) this month here so you’re reminded daily of your goals.
Check out Part 1 (Simplifying your Home) of our Simplifying 2018 series and check back tomorrow for Part 3 (Simplifying your Routines) and lots of fun giveaways, discounts, tips and more as we head into the new year. And, if you haven’t picked up your Simplified Planner yet, now’s the time! Orders over $100 get FREE domestic shipping until January 2! Get yours before they’re gone! AND my new book, A Simplified Life, is available here! Looking for more inspiration this week? I had a blast on Jen Hatmaker’s podcast this week as well as Jesus Calling!
Also, check out our new FREE Community Group! This has been on my heart for a LONG time. The process of simplifying your life is a BIG one. It’s so freeing and exciting and it’s HARD WORK. But it’s best done in community. With friends who can cheer you on, hold you accountable, and give you ideas. Friends you can ooh and ahh over before and after pictures with! Friends who can remind you it’s worth it to keep going when the clutter seems like too much (both physically and mentally). I’m THRILLED to announce we’ve just opened a FREE Simplified Life Community Group on Facebook (I know, not everyone is on FB – but its the easiest, *simplest* place to host such a thing – so get on FB even if just to join us). I’ll be there too and just can’t wait to get to know you all better. Hop in before we start our Simplicity Challenge January 1 and introduce yourself! Join here.
Win one of 40 (!!!) prize packs, including special-edition “Joy + Simplicity” pencils and an EL notepad! Giveaway winners will be contacted on Monday, January 2. Open to U.S. Residents only.